John Shaw Vaughan
Second Lieuetnant, United States Army
Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 539-06
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Second Lieutenant John S. Vaughan, 23, of Edwards, Colorado, died in Mosul, Iraq, on June 7, 2006, when he encountered enemy small arms fire during dismounted combat operations. Vaughan was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Fort Wainwright, Alaska.
For further information related to this release, contact Army Public Affairs at (703) 692-2000.
June 10, 2006:
U.S. Army Lieutenant John Shaw Vaughan, of Edwards, was killed during a patrol Wednesday in Mosul, Iraq, his sister, Becca Vaughan, confirmed Friday.
Vaughan, 23, who graduated from Battle Mountain High School in 2001 and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, was assigned to the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team at Fort Wainwright, Alaska.
He went to Iraq with his unit last month.
"He was my best friend in the whole world," said Becca Vaughan, 18.
She said she had heard from her brother by phone the previous Friday. "He sounded really happy . . . like he didn't have a care in the world," she said.
In a June 2 e-mail sent from Iraq, Vaughan told his friends and family about the 100-degree afternoons, the small two-bed "can" he shared with his platoon sergeant, and about the locals.
"For the most part, everyone in Iraq is very nice. The bad guys are very far and few between, but they are most defiantly here," he wrote.
In another e-mail he wrote, "When you meet people on the street, they take you into their home and tell you about how Saddam burned their home and land mines killed their children, you have a much clearer purpose on why we are here and what we have done for these people."
Becca Vaughan said her brother was excited to learn he would be stationed in Alaska, a place the family visited years earlier and "fell in love with."
"We thought it was great. He was a fly fisherman. We thought it was the perfect place for him," she said. "We had plans to visit him. (Now) I guess we're going to make that trip this summer to pack up his stuff. He wanted us to see it. And we don't want to let him down."
When Vaughan was in middle school, his ingenuity on a science project got the attention of the military, said Jay Cerny, then Vaughan's science teacher and now the principal of Eagle County Charter Academy.
Vaughan's project compared the accuracy of store-bought ammunition with that assembled by him. It was displayed at the regional science fair in Grand Junction and, it "drew a lot of attention from the military," Cerny said.
Becca Vaughan said the last time she saw her
brother, he was still in bed and she just shook his foot as she prepared
to leave for college. She told him she'd see him when he came back from
Iraq. "He said, 'No worries,' " she said. "He just . . . rolled over and
said have a good flight . . . I never said goodbye to him."
Sarah Vaughan and her daughter waited in a Florida airport as a plane carrying her son in a casket traveled from Maryland.
Other family members waited, too. But Sarah Vaughan, her daughter, Becca Vaughan, and John Shaw Vaughan had lived their whole lives together in the valley.
So Sarah and Becca Vaughan wanted to be the only family there when John Vaughan was carried out of the plane.
“When the plane came in with his body (Becca Vaughan) said, ‘Mom I want it to be just us. He was ours,’” said Sarah Vaughan, of Edwards.
More than a year later, the women will walk behind John Vaughan as he is carried to his grave in Arlington National Cemetery October 12, 2007.
Vaughan, a 23-year-old U.S. Army lieutenant, was killed in Mosul, Iraq, when a sniper shot him in June 2006.
“He will be so honored there,” Sarah Vaughan said. “It’s just his place and the family, generations later, can go visit and he will be there in Arlington.”
John Vaughan was born at the Vail Valley Medical Center and graduated from Battle Mountain High School in 2001.
He graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with a degree in aviation business management and was commissioned as a U.S. Army Lieutenant in 2005.
After officer training at Fort Benning, Georgia, he was stationed in Fort Wainwright, Alaska. He was killed five weeks after he started his first tour in Iraq.
U.S. Army Executive Officer Jason Turner was John Vaughan’s roommate in college. The two men were in Reserve Officers’ Training Corps together and Vaughan was Turner’s mentor and best friend, Turner said.
Vaughan provided valuable leadership and guidance in college, Turner said.
“I miss him, but I’m very proud of him,” he said. “There’s no better way to honor John than to have him buried in Arlington Cemetery.”
John Perkins, commander of the Edwards Veterans of Foreign Wars, tried to persuade Vaughan not to go to Iraq when he met him for lunch shortly before Vaughan left for Iraq.
But Vaughan wanted to go to war, Perkins said.
“I thought to myself, thank God we’ve got young men like this,” Perkins said.
John Vaughan will lie among honored people who died in wars and presidents, such as John F. Kennedy, Perkins said.
“You can just feel the history and the honor and integrity,” when one visits Arlington Cemetery, he said.
At first, Sarah Vaughan wanted her son to be buried in a Florida cemetery, where family members lie. Then she thought of spreading his ashes where he enjoyed skiing or where he used to go four-wheeling in his jeeps he had a knack for restoring.
But nothing felt right until May, when she and Becca Vaughan traveled to Arlington Cemetery for a memorial service to honor those who died in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
The women knew then that John Vaughan, who was fiercely dedicated to being a soldier, belonged there, Sarah Vaughan said.
“It’s the most moving place,” Sarah said. “It’s quiet and it’s part of our country’s history. It just felt right. That’s what he would want.”
Nowadays, Sarah Vaughan feels stronger than when she did even a couple months ago, the anniversary of her son’s death.
But she still struggles to deal with the loss of her son, she said.
“It’s just the forever that’s so hard to take,” Sarah Vaughan said.
She’s fine with having her son buried almost 2,000 miles away because his spirit is around her when she rides horses and spends time in nature, she said.
“I feel his presence all the time,” Sarah Vaughan said. “I feel like he’s watching me all the time.”
Posted: 27 August 2007 Updated: 14 October 2007 Updated: 17 October 2007 Updated: 16 November 2007 Updated: 14 May 2008
Photo By Michael Robert Patterson, May 2008
Photos By: M. R. Patterson, October 2007